Keeping It Simple

Do you ever just feel like life is really complicated? Maybe you can relate to some of these stories:

  • The guy who just seem to have a million pieces of work at school to get on top of and complete and you just can’t wait until you get a break.
  • I’m talking about the girl who seems to always be chasing relationship, faces rejection and doesn’t ever feel good enough. And every conversation you have online just seems to be misunderstood and it’s all so complicated because all you really want is to be understood.
  • It’s working out stuff in your family – it should be simple, but it always seems to go wrong and if it would just get better you’d have hope.
  • It’s the pressure from the people at school – they give you a hard time, they don’t ever give the impression they care and no matter what you do, you’re just feeling left out.

Sometimes, I just look around and think, it should be so simple, but it’s complicated! Life is a messy, complicated web of relationships isn’t it?

And all term, out theme has been, Walk with Jesus. Jesus initiates the inbox into our lives, and calls us to follow Him. To walk with him. And all these situation, all the complexity of life, Jesus offers a story and a hope into that.

Walking with Jesus is about facing all that life can throw at you, knowing that Jesus puts us right before God by atoning for our sin and then, helping us walk with Him, with Him as our source of identity and life. God puts into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. He his gracious to us, not paying us back for our sin and rebellion, and so, we can do the same to others, even, to forgive, say, my dad or brother for what they did. Jesus listens to us, when no one else does and we finally have an example to look up to and that’s our big brother Jesus.

And all of this is wonderfully simple.

So, there was a time in Jesus life, where Jesus seeks to show 3 different people, that it’s much simpler than they made it out to be.

The Children

We find the first group of people over in Luke 18:15-17.

One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.

So let’s track what’s happen here.

Now, touch is an amazing thing. To shake a hand, to hug, to put your arm around a hurting person, this shows warmth, care, comfort and concern. And no more so than for children. Russell More tells the true story of when he adopted his two boys from a Russian orphanage. When he and his wife arrived, there were rows of babies in the room, but they were silent. Not a sound. No crying. No squeaking. No tears. No laughter. Nothing but silence. He said it was the most eerie sound he’s ever encountered. “Why is it so quiet?” He asked a nurse. Her reply was so sad. “The babies don’t get picked up or touched, and so, they learn that no one will come to them if they cry, so they just stop.”

See, these parents wanted Jesus to take notice of their children, to be kind to them, to, start a fire in them, in their souls, in their hearts, for God, so that they would grow up to know the grace, kindness and love of Jesus and that this would be the all-consuming fire in them, a passion for God.

But, this caused distress in Jesus’ disciples. “Jesus doesn’t have time for little people. He’s too busy!” But, Jesus saw this, and he stepped in saying, “Actually, I’ve always got time for children. Don’t stop them, don’t hinder them, because the kingdom of God is for them too. No one is too young. You don’t have to have lived your life, got it messed up and then come to me. You don’t need to get old, try out all the stuff you can do and then come to Jesus. You don’t need to be intellectually clever, and you don’t need to do anything for me to love you. Just do what these children do and run into my arms. Let yourself be embraced by the love, grace and mercy of God.”

Don’t make it more complicated than it is, is what he’s saying.

The thing is, it’s not that trusting Jesus is simplistic, like, a Christian is dumb, and doesn’t have an opinion. But it’s so simple and we complicate it. Just come to Jesus as you are. Unless you receive the Kingdom of God like a child, you’ll never enter it.

That is, a child trusts easily their parents. You know that, even if you parents are quite horrible to you, there’s just something in their words when they talk to you, when they say, I’ll be there – even if you know they won’t be, something that makes you trust them. And this is what it should be like with Jesus. A simple trust in Him, that He is our Good Father, Our Gracious Savior.

See, we don’t need to do anything to earn God our Fathers approval though how we perform, because Jesus, the Perfect Son of God, performed perfectly, all that God required on our behalf and then, he leads us to God.

The Rich, Young Hipster

The next person we see in verse 18.

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

A man in the crowd, a rich, young, hipster perhaps, says, “What about me? What do I have to do to inherit eternal life.” In essence, he’s asking, how do I get in? I’ve got all this stuff, and riches and money, these kids have nothing? Surly, given my position in life, I’ve earned the right to be in your Kingdom?

But, it’s the very thing he hopes is enough, that will stop him getting in.

The trouble with this man, is that he’s too preoccupied with his possessions – He’s made it too complicated! This guy wants Jesus to tell him he’s good enough, done enough, smart enough and rich enough for God to approve of him. But that’s not the way. Jesus says to find our life in him, we have to give up our own ideas of what Salvation is.

The Guy Who’s Following but Doubting

Finally, down at the end, we see that walking with Jesus is costly. The Fathers embrace is a gutsy, life altering call to give up what you may know, define you and love for the sake of something much better. Jesus.

And then the third and final person we see is Peter. Down in Luke 18:28-30 we read the following,

We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

Peter’s saying, “Jesus, I’ve given up all I have to follow you, and that’s hard!” To which Jesus says, “Yes you have. You’ve come to me like a child. You gave up the life you had and I’ll reward that. Know that in my Kingdom, for all eternity, you’ll have a greater reward than this life can ever offer you because Jesus is the greatest treasure and the happiest of all our longings.”

And so, the message of Jesus is simply that He died for your sin, rose again to new life and offers you, a new story in His Kingdom, where He is working salvation and life and joy for you now and into eternity.

What About You?

So then, where do you sit? Maybe you fall into one these three groups:

  • Will you come to Jesus like these children: With simple trust that He is your Good Father?
  • Will you get out of the way of yourself? Like the rich hipster needed to know. To let go of all you can do, achieve and earn for God’s acceptance an approval. It’s already there, waiting for you.
  • Will you live radically? As a child of God, it is hard and sacrificial, but, the value of Jesus is better than anything else. Is God calling you to readjust your outlook on Him? To re-think what you hold dear? To realise that gaining Jesus is the greatest treasure and that nothing you have to give up, go without or miss out on, is less than gaining Jesus? And the, how does that shape how you live each day?

Will you walk with Jesus?